What are the eligibility requirements for startups applying to the pitch competition?
Participating startups and founders must meet the following criteria:
At least 18 years of age
Members of the founding team identify as Black
US-based companies, headquartered anywhere in the United States except for Silicon Valley, CA; New York City, NY; and Boston, MA. (By mandate, the ROTR Fund does not invest in companies based in SF, NYC, or BOS.)
Are there application entry fees?
No. The application to the pitch competition is completely free.
How does the Rise of the Rest Equity Edition Powered by Revolution and OHUB work?
Rise of the Rest (ROTR), Opportunity Hub (OHUB), and Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab have teamed up to launch the 2020 Rise of the Rest Virtual Tour: Equity Edition, centered around the core pillars of all Rise of the Rest tours: Connect & Convene; Experience & Learn; Celebrate, Spotlight & Invest. Rise of the Rest's longtime focus on geographic diversity is combined with OHUB's longtime leadership supporting black founders to create a multi-pronged, weeklong event focused on increasing visibility and investment into startups all across the United States that are led by black founders. ROTR and OHUB are proud to welcome co-investment partners from Morgan Stanley and 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund to provide additional capital to winning companies. All programming is free but requires an RSVP to gain access. For more information and to register, visittour.revolution.com.
Why should you apply?
Our pitch competitions are about access, visibility, transparency and investment capital. ROTR, OHUB, and Morgan Stanley have teamed up to try and support as many founders as we can through this process. We know "pitch competition fatigue" is real and we hope to go the extra mile for you.
All applicants will have their companies reviewed by the Rise of the Rest, OHUB, Morgan Stanley, and 100 Black Angels & Allies investment teams and will receive specific feedback on their pitch deck.
All applicants will be invited to a seminar led by ROTR Fund Managing Partner David Hall: "10 Secrets VCs Won't Tell You, But I Will."
The first 100 applicants will receive complimentary access to OHUB's acclaimed 1-day Founder Prep Course
10 companies will be selected to present in the semi-finals round. Semifinalists will be announced publicly, receive national media coverage, and pitch their companies in a "VC Meeting" virtual setting. Each pitch session will last for 30 minutes and have four senior venture investors on the judging panel. 5 finalists will be selected.
Each of the 10 semifinalist companies will also receive 5 meetings with senior investors at leading early stage venture capital funds from the ROTR & OHUB networks.
5 finalists will pitch live during our Equity Week: Main Event in front of hundreds of live attendees, including venture capital investors from across the country and media outlets.
3 winners will receive an optional invitation to participate in one of Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab 2021 cohorts.
2 runner-up companies will each receive a $500,000 investment ($250,000 from Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, $250,000 from Morgan Stanley) and an additional $25,000 investment from 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund.
1 winning company will receive an investment of $1,000,000 ($500,000 investment from Rise of the Rest Seed, $500,000 investment from Morgan Stanley) and an additional $50,000 investment from 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund.
Semi-finalists and finalists will receive pitch deck reviews, pitch coaching, and other preparation resources
Here is a link to a video of Rise of the Rest Seed Fund Partner Anna Mason discussing this question: https://rb.gy/nvxj4m.
What do I need to do to apply?
Complete the pitch application, foundhere. (~20 minutes)
Submit a pitch deck (We have created this free pitch deck template, which you can find below. You may submit any pitch deck and do not need to use this template, but it does offer some guidance and insight into the type of information we are looking for in a deck.)
Thursday, December 3, 2020 | Virtual Platform (Zoom, Bizzabo, or other similar livestream/webinar platform)
The semi-finalist round will be held virtually the week of November 16, 2020.
(An account with the appropriate platform will be necessary to participate. If you are unfamiliar with how to use virtual presentation platforms, our team will gladly assist you.)
What types of startups should apply to pitch?
All innovative startups are encouraged to apply. Applicants are not limited to a single sector or industry, but Rise of the Rest, Morgan Stanley, and 100 Black Angels & Allies have a strong preference to fund companies in the following areas:
Cyber / Defense / Security
Education / Workforce Development
Energy / Sustainability / Agriculture
Enterprise Software SaaS
Healthcare / Wellness (excluding medical devices and therapeutics)
Media / Marketing
Real Estate / Hospitality
Space / Telecommunications
Transportation / Logistics
For reference, Rise of the Rest's full portfolio can be foundhere. The fund is currently invested in 150+ companies in more than 70 cities across the United States.
Eligible startups have a product/service that’s live or in beta form and has measurable performance indicators such as revenue, customers, successful beta results, etc. We encourage pre-seed, seed stage, and series A stage companies to apply. In certain instances, “pre-revenue” companies may be selected to pitch if the company is building an advanced technology solution.
Here is a link to a video of Rise of the Rest Seed Fund Managing Partner David Hall discussing this question: https://rb.gy/fcdmwv.
For further helpful context, here is a brief description of Rise of the Rest's investment thesis and strategy:
Rise of the Rest Seed Fund makes seed and early stage investments. Our initial investments average around $500,000, with larger amounts for follow on investments. Our intention is for this pitch competition to be an accurate reflection of our "normal course of business" investing. We partner with regional and national investors to invest catalytic capital in promising companies.
What types of tax-structure does my company need to have to be eligible? (C-Corp vs. B-Corp vs. S-Corp vs. LLC)
Because we will make our investment through our Rise of the Rest Seed Fund II, LP (“ROTR Fund”) 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund I, LP ("100 Black Angels"), we do not accept any applicants that are taxed as S-corporations. If your company is a C-Corp, LLC, or B-Corp you are eligible to apply. We are happy to connect you with resource providers who can help you understand these structures, and make necessary changes, should you so choose.
Is my startup eligible to apply if it has raised money already?
Yes. All early-stage companies are welcome to apply - both those that have raised money already and those that have not yet raised. However, if your company (or a company you’d like to recommend) has already raised capital at a pre-money valuation (or note valuation cap) that is higher than $15M, you are not eligible to apply for the pitch competition. However, the ROTR and OHUB teams would love to learn more about your business and explore featuring you/your company during a different part of the virtual tour. Please email@example.com@ohub.atto tell us more.
Can I start my application, save, and come back later?
Yes, you can utilize this Google Doc template to fill out the application on a timeline that is convenient to you, and copy/paste your responses into the Airtable submission form before the deadline. You will not be able to start and come back to the actual Airtable submission form.
What are we screening for?
A team of ROTR Seed Fund, Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab, and 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund investment professionals review all applications.
Companies are judged on:
Bold Idea — Does the idea “swing for the fences” and have the potential to disrupt a big industry or even change the world? What type of problem are you solving?
Market – How big is the addressable market for your company? Are you disrupting an existing market and/or creating a new one?
Team — Does the team have the skills, leadership, track record, and commitment to move forward on this idea?
Execution — Are there strong early indicators of customer growth, revenue, or other measurable traction? Have you demonstrated product-market fit? What is the strategy for product development, marketing, sales, and growth?
Business Model — Has a revenue model been defined and is it realistic and sustainable?
Do I have to include a pitch deck in my application?
No, but it is recommended. We encourage you to post a video that is either a demo or a 60-second clip of the founder(s) explaining what the company does. We find it’s helpful to hear directly from you, and we aren’t looking for high production quality. You can include a link to a video you have posted on your website or a link to a hidden video on YouTube.
Do I have to include a reference in my application?
No, but it is highly recommended. If you received the invitation to apply from a local accelerator, co-work space or fund with which you are affiliated, we suggest you list that organization and your primary point of contact there as your reference. Please include name, organization, and email for your reference(s). You may also add context on why you included them as references.
What happens at the pitch competition?
If selected, you will virtually pitch your company in front of a panel of judges. One representative of your company will give a 4-minute presentation, followed by 4 minutes of Q&A from our judges. Following the presentation, the judges will deliberate and announce the winner of a $500,000 grand prize investment and $250,000 runners-up investments (subject to change). The event is free and open to the public; friends and family are invited to attend. Checktour.revolution.comfor the opportunity to RSVP.
Can more than one-person pitch per company?
No, only one founder is permitted to pitch. We permit a co-founder to join on stage for Q&A.
If I am not selected as a finalist, can I still attend in the event?
Yes! The pitch competition and Main Event are free to attend We encourage you to RSVP attour.revolution.com
What are the terms of the investment?
ROTR Seed Fund, Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab, and 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund invest into priced rounds (preferred equity only; no common equity) or Convertible Notes (each with an appropriate discount and valuation cap). We will not be investing in SAFEs through this competition.
ROTR Seed Fund, Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab, and 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund will invest into the open investment round of the winning companies. In some instances, companies may have recently closed an investment round that can be re-opened to accommodate the investment.
If any of the winning companies do not currently have an open investment round, ROTR Seed Fund, Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab, and 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund will invest on an 18-month maturity, convertible note with terms negotiated post competition, but mutually agreeable to all parties. In no instance will the convertible note have a valuation cap that is lower than $5 Million or higher than $15 Million.
The Company must permit ROTR Seed Fund, Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab, and 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund to close on its investment within 90 days of the pitch competition date.
ROTR Seed Fund, Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab, and 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund will not invest in S-Corps through this competition.
The investment is subject to standard due diligence procedures and compliance with standard ROTR Seed Fund, Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab, and 100 Black Angels & Allies Fund administrative and reporting requirements. To complete legal diligence, we review materials such as financing documents, corporate formation documents, cap tables, and general fundraising data room materials. We also may complete a basic background check on all founders in the portfolio.
When will semifinalists in each be notified?
The semifinalists in each will be notified by Monday, November 2, 2020.
If I am selected as a semifinalist, what happens next?
Confirm within 24 hours that you are available to pitch virtually during the Main Event on December 3rd, 2020, and:
Submit a refined pitch deck for the competition, subject to ROTR specifications on content and slide count. (A template will be provided for your convenience)
Sign a release, granting Rise of the Rest, OHUB, and Morgan Stanley permission to use your company and persons affiliated with your company in promotional and press materials for the tour. ****
You will receive pitch coaching, courtesy of Rise of the Rest, OHUB, and Morgan Stanley. This is a required prep session.
You will receive special access to a series of pre-event educational sessions on a variety of topics related to building a startup, courtesy of Rise of the Rest, OHUB, Morgan Stanley, and select partners. These sessions will be accessible remotely and conducted via invite-only webinar.
You will be invited to join a group call to review the terms of the investment should you win and to answer any general questions about the pitch process.
What types of companies have won in the past?
Learn more about the winners of the ROTR 8.0 pitch competition winnershere. You can view the entire Rise of the Rest Seed Fund portfolio of companieshere.
How long will it take to apply?
The application should only take 20-30 minutes to complete, and you can start the application, save, and return to the page later. To prepare, see below for application questions: